Wednesday, April 18, 2018

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD




Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org


The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre, Coward-McCann Inc, 1963, 256 pp
 
 
The #1 bestseller in 1964 was this now famous spy story. With just his third novel, John le Carre hit the bestseller list right at the top. I have read eight of his novels, all out of order, but I read this one first back in 1993. By then I was familiar with Ken Follett's spy thrillers, however le Carre was clearly on a whole other level. Now that I am reading them in order I finally get the whole George Smiley thing.
 
The spy in this one is Alec Leamus, head of the Berlin Station. The Berlin Wall has just been erected and Leamus has lost his last agent while trying to get him out of East Berlin. His career as a spy has tanked and a desk job is not his cup of tea.

He agrees to a last assignment, pretending to go over to the Communists as a double agent. But George Smiley has sent him as bait to trap an actual double agent, Mundt, who is at that time the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service.

If Leamus pulls it off, he can "come in from the cold" with a cushy pension. As usual in a le Carre story, no one is exactly who he or she seems to be. There is no happy ending. In fact, it is the deep sadness and despair that I love in these books. Not because sadness and despair are good things but because the author does it so well.


(The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is available in paperback on the shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

13 comments:

  1. Le Carre is the master of the spy novel. Nobody does it better. His characters are unforgettable.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It sounds like the spy novel held up over time. for you. My husband would be pleased you're reading them in order ... George Smiley is quite a character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am somehow oddly pleased at the idea of pleasing your husband, as a reader I mean:-)

      Delete
    2. Ha!!! very amusing!

      Delete
  3. You’re right that no one gets the sadness and disappointment of the spy life as Le Carre. I prefer action in my spy novels and at that he fails big time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you are right. That is why I also read Daniel Silva, not to mention my new obsession Ian Fleming. What spy novelists do you like best?

      Delete
    2. Frederick Forsyth and Daniel Silva, in that order.

      Delete
    3. Oh yes, Frederick Forsyth. My next Daniel Silva review is coming soon.

      Delete
  4. Someday, however, I will read them in order as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aw, this novel sounds excellent and is on my reading wish list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you like it as much as I did.

      Delete